Saturday, October 23, 2010

Papal Infallibility Debate with William Albrecht

This past week I debated Mr. William Albrecht (Roman Catholic) on the subject of Papal Infallibility. The specific question was whether Vatican I was correct regarding papal infallibility. Naturally, I answered the question in the negative. Here's the video.

(link to mp3)

- TurretinFan

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trying Out Wordpress

I'm not really sure whether Blogger or Wordpress is a better blogging platform. In the short term, I'm going to continue blogging here and occasionally updating the Wordpress blog. Unsurprising the other blog is at

Feel free to use whichever you like, though most of my attention is on this blog for right now.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Response to Bill O'Reilly and Bill Maher

Recently, Bill Maher triumphed over Bill O'Reilly in an interview on Fox news (link to video). Why did Mr. Maher triumph? He triumphed because he exposed Mr. O'Reilly's inconsistencies.

Mr. Maher's first point was that 60% of Americans believe that the Noah's ark story is literally true. Mr. O'Reilly stated that he doesn't know any of those people. That doesn't surprise me - Mr. O'Reilly is a practicing Roman Catholic (link to his claim in that regard). Mr. O'Reilly, I'd love to meet you and let you know that yes, the Noah's ark story is literally true. The problem is not Mr. Maher's numbers, the problem is that Mr. Maher thinks it's not wise to believe that the historical account of a Noah's ark is an historical account. Yet there is abundant evidence of the flood - as Ken Ham would put it, there are billions of dead things, buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth.

Mr. Maher's second point is to ask Mr. O'Reilly why, if God wrote the Bible, is there stuff in the Bible that is untrue. Mr. O'Reilly's response is to allege that it is allegorical. This is, of course, the wrong response. There is nothing in the text of Genesis that leads one to conclude the account of Noah's flood is allegorical. Instead, the account of Noah's flood is one of the clearly historical narratives. Mr. Maher makes a reference to the fact that both he and a lot of people agree that this account is literal.

Mr. Maher then asked whether the command about killing those who violate the sabbath is literal or parable. He seemed to mischaracterize it as "if you see your neighbor breaking the sabbath, you're suppose to kill him," but perhaps we can give him the benefit of the doubt that he just meant to refer to the fact that the law of Moses commanded death for sabbath-breakers. Sadly, Mr. O'Reilly's response is "I don't know that parable, is that Romans, Ecclesiastes, where did that come from?" Mr. Maher states that it is a law in Deuteronomy, and although keeping the Sabbath is mentioned in Deuteronomy, the specific death sentence for sabbath-breaking is found in Exodus:

Exodus 31:14-15
Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

Exodus 35:2 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.

In comments apparently recorded after the interview, Mr. O'Reilly corrected Mr. Maher's Deuteronomy-Exodus error, but during the interview Mr. O'Reilly's response was that as a Christian he doesn't care about the Old Testament, he's just interested in the New Testament.

Mr. Maher counters that it's still the Christian belief that the Old Testament was written by God. Mr. O'Reilly countered that, no, the Old Testament was written by prophets. Mr. Maher countered that it was nevertheless inspired by God, so how could it have errors or immoral teachings? Mr. O'Reilly countered that he doesn't know anyone who kills their neighbor over breaking the sabbath, a response that totally misses the point. Mr. Maher's mistake was in saying that capital punishment for sabbath-breaking is wrong.

Mr. O'Reilly tried to steer the conversation in his favor by suggesting that Jesus was a great moral example. Mr. Maher countered that if Jesus was in charge, America would probably have universal healthcare. Mr. O'Reilly countered that this would be possible because Jesus would multiply the loaves and the fishes.

Mr. Maher expressed complete incredulity at the idea of multiplying loaves and fishes. Mr. O'Reilly countered that if Mr. Maher wants to believe that life came from a meteorite crashing into the Earth, then he's free to believe that. Mr. O'Reilly further tried to score some points by suggesting that Mr. Maher is just as much a man of faith as himself is, only a different faith. Mr. Maher denied this.

After the clip from the interview, Mr. O'Reilly posted a correction regarding Exodus-Deuteronomy issue and alleged that in context it was God and not one's neighbors that would be taking care of killing those who broke the sabbath. Actually, however, the command was to the Israelites (as a government) to provide the death penalty for sabbath-breaking.

This is confirmed by the book of Numbers:

Numbers 15:32-36
And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.

So, sadly O'Reilly was soundly beaten by Mr. Maher, but there are excellent answers that could have been given to Mr. Maher, had Mr. O'Reilly been more familiar with Scripture.